A confusing day here, and not of my making. I’ve just watched another pre-election TV ding-dong aka The Health Debate, between Andy Burnham, Andrew Lansley and Norman Lamb, all being cross-examined by Andrew Neil and Bronwen Jeffreys, on their plans for the NHS and care, should they be elected. Lots of predictable hot air, very little substance.
Yesterday, I read that nurses are bemoaning the fact that patients and their families ‘expect miracles and are too quick to launch legal action when they do not happen‘. The blame for this was placed on unrealistic expectations fostered by TV shows like Holby City, according to the Royal College of Nursing conference.
Well, RCN and Burnham, Lansley and Lamb, I’d like to invite you all to think about the following story and see who you think is to blame:
A friend of mine, fully supported by her husband, is caring for her 90 year old mother, and has done so for the last 15 years. The mother has advanced dementia and a whole host of other problems, as a result of which she was ‘graciously granted’ fully-funded NHS Continuing Healthcare. The family do not want the mother to be placed into residential care – they wish to continue to care for her in their home, where they have lived together for the last 15 years, ever since the mother first developed problems. The care being delivered by the family is superb and far exceeds anything that could be offered in a care home.
Unfortunately, the mother has become incontinent over the last year. The NHS Continence Nurse is rationing the supply of continence pads to 4 per day, and offering absolutely no valid reasons other than the old chestnut ‘that’s all you’re allowed’. And yet, the Department of Health expects Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to provide pads and other continence products in quantities appropriate to the individual’s continence needs. ‘Good practice in continence services’ published in April 2000 and still in force today, made it clear that it as long ago as 1997 there was an ‘unacceptable variation between trusts in the limits on the number of pads supplied in each delivery cycle’. So the PCT is forcing a 90 year old woman to suffer.
The Department of Health launched what it called The Dignity in Care Campaign with a mission to end tolerance of indignity in health and social care services through raising awareness and inspiring people to take action, with Sir Michael Parkinson as the National Dignity Ambassador.
Who needs to be inspired to take action to help people who are being subjected to such indignity?
Where is the dignity in the rationing of continence products to someone with such severe health problems?
Someone is caring more about the health of their budget than about the health of their patient. What is the point of a budget if you fail to meet the most basic of needs in a caring, compassionate and dignified way?